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Rhode Island congressional delegation will attend Trump’s inauguration

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The four Democrats who represent Rhode Island in Washington, D.C. say they will be attending President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, choosing not to join a growing number of House Democrats boycotting the event.

Congressman John Lewis, D-Georgia organized the boycott, and more than 20 other House colleagues have signed on to stay home on Friday. In an interview on Meet the Press over the weekend, Lewis said he didn’t see Trump as a “legitimate president.”

“It’s my plan to attend the inaugration,” Congressman David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, said in an interview with Eyewitness News on Sunday. “And not because in any way I support the new President,” he added.

Cicilline said he plans to continue to fight against President-elect Trump, and said he’ll attend his swearing-in as the 45th president in order to show that he will be holding him accountable.

“I choose to be there because I want him to know I’m in this fight, and I’m not going to not be present for one second and sort of give him an open field,” Cicilline said.

Congressman Jim Langevin, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Jack Reed, all Democrats, also said they would attend.

“It’s a rite of the American Democracy,” Sen. Reed said in an interview, giving a more traditional reason for attending the ceremony.

He said he finds it interesting that even Trump’s election rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, plans to attend the inauguration with former President Bill Clinton.

“Because it represents more than just the individual,” Reed said. “It’s the constitution and the country.”

President-elect Trump blasted Congressman Lewis on Twitter for organizing the boycott, writing that Lewis “should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S.”

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‘It’s a great thing for RI,’ Whitehouse says of Flynn appointment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — President-elect Donald Trump has appointed retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser, making him the second Rhode Island native to hold the position of the last three.

The U.S. Senate will need to confirm some of Trump’s picks for his administration, but not Flynn. U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse praised the Middletown native as a military man.

“It’s a great thing for Rhode Island to have this tradition of service reflected in this way,” said Whitehouse.

“He’s a great, professional soldier,” added Reed. “We traveled extensively together in Afghanistan. We never spoke about politics, we always talked about the troops.”

Now, Flynn will be on the policy side of things. It will be a big transition, according to Reed.

“I wish him well,” he said. “But these are a whole new sets of skills that he has to master and demonstrate.”

The senators also spoke of their colleague, Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has been tapped as attorney general. The Senate will have to confirm him, and both Reed and Whitehouse said they’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

“He’s been hotly opposed to any progress on immigration reform, and I think that’s an important issue for us to address,” Whitehouse explained. “So I think I’ll wait to let that one play out a little bit more.”

“I think those hearings are going to be very, very revealing,” said Reed.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is taking a harder line on Sen. Sessions, calling on President-elect Trump to reverse his decision and urging the Senate not to confirm him, saying “there can be no compromise with racism.”

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Senior official: Trump has offered R.I. native Gen. Flynn job as national security adviser

(AP/WPRI) — President-elect Donald Trump has offered retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn the job of national security adviser, the Associated Press reported Thursday evening.

The AP cited a Trump transition official, who said Trump will make the official announcement Friday morning, along with announcing he is nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, and Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo to be CIA Director.

There was no immediate word if Gen. Flynn had accepted the job. Flynn, who grew up in Middletown, R.I., has been widely considered in the running for a cabinet position.

Reached by Eyewitness News by phone Thursday evening, Flynn declined to comment on if he would take the job. “I can’t talk about it at this time,” he said.

Flynn was a close adviser to President-elect Trump throughout his campaign, working with him on national security issues. Last week, he told Eyewitness News he would consider any job Trump offered him, but was not actively seeking a post in the administration.

“There’s a lot of things to do and a lot of different ways to serve,” Gen. Flynn said in the interview at the time. “I didn’t come into this thing to get a job.”

Gen. Flynn rose to national prominence during the Republican National Convention, when he made a fiery speech against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her use of a private email server. Flynn considers himself a Democrat, but said he could not support the Clintons or the Bushes, and chose to support Donald Trump’s candidacy because of his “leadership and his love of his country.”

Flynn attended the University of Rhode Island after graduating from Middletown High School, and maintains a home in Middletown. If he takes the job, Flynn would not be the first Rhode Islander to be national security adviser; Providence native Tom Donilon held the post under President Obama.

Flynn was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama, but left amid disagreements over how to handle radical Islamic extremism. After leaving that post, Flynn publicly criticized the Obama administration and called for a tougher approach to fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS.

“We need to strengthen our military quite a bit,” Flynn said last week. “That’s going to be one of the priorities of a Trump administration.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Thursday urging President-elect Trump not to appoint Flynn, citing his views on Islam, including a tweet he posted in February that said “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

“A person who believes the faith of one fourth of the world’s population is a ‘cancer’ should not be advising the president on anything, let alone on our nation’s security,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Rhode Island GOP chairman Brandon Bell said he was “thrilled” at the apparent impending appointment of Flynn, “a Rhode Islander who I know and admire in such an important role.”

“I am very happy for the General and his family,” Bell added.

The national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation. The job is based in the White House and its occupant has frequent access to the president.

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